Michigan basketball team has a chance to get off the bubble against Spartans, Big Ten scenarios and more
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
John Beilein briefly sat in front of his computer this morning, went onto ESPN.com and logged onto his ESPN Insider account.
His fast goal: Survey the national scene to figure out where his Michigan basketball team stands on the quest for a bid to this year’s NCAA tournament.
“I’m not doing it a great deal,” Beilein said. “I think that will happen after this game and then going into the tournament where we would be.
“But we just want to play as long as people will let us play. That’s all we’re trying to do.”
There is little denying Michigan’s post-season fortunes are tied to what happens Saturday against Michigan State (2 p.m., CBS). If the Wolverines sweep the Spartans for the first time since 1997, it will give them a good shot of reaching the NCAA tournament for the second time in three seasons after missing it for a decade.
A loss to Michigan State likely means Michigan needs a deep Big Ten tournament run for a shot at qualification.
For Michigan, it has been playing games like this for weeks — win or NIT. But only Zack Novak and Stu Douglass have really been in this type of situation before, where a win all but seals a bid like it did when Michigan beat Minnesota on the road two seasons ago.
“There’s no denying there’s different hype around the game and different feelings for all of us,” Douglass said. “It’s a big-game opportunity for a lot of guys, their first time feeling what it is like to have a big game to go to the NCAA tournament, first time to sweep Michigan State in a while.
“So it’s just a lot of different emotions running through our team but I think we’re focused and the talk hasn’t been about anything but getting that big win.”
Starting Sunday, win or lose, Beilein said he’ll start studying the bubble more closely, especially with some mid-major tournaments where if top teams don’t win, they could be bid-stealers from bubble teams.
This is potentially true in the CAA, where George Mason and Old Dominion are likely NCAA tournament teams regardless of whether or not those teams win the conference tournament. The same scenario could take place in the Missouri Valley if Missouri State were to lose in its conference tournament.
Butler in the Horizon league is a bubble team as well that would open up a slot if it wins its conference tournament, where the Bulldogs are the No. 2 seed. Same goes in the West Coast Conference, where both St. Mary’s and Gonzaga are bubble teams.
“I won’t watch any,” Beilein said. “But I just look at the scores and read a few of the bracketology type of things.”
Big Ten seeding
The premise is simple.
If Michigan wins, it will receive either the No. 4 or 5 seed in the Big Ten tournament. Which number it gets doesn’t matter much, as the result is the same — a bye into the Big Ten quarterfinals.
If Michigan loses, it will likely have to play Thursday against either Iowa or Indiana. Is there a major difference?
“If you can get to Sunday, there is definitely a difference in having an extra day’s rest,” Beilein said. “But as far as getting to a semifinal there is very little relativity to how many games you have played.”
This and that
The Michigan-Michigan State game has been sold out for almost a week and tickets on Stubhub.com are fairly limited. Those that are available, though, are going from $176-395 — over 10 times the face value of the seats. Michigan is deeming the game a “Maize Out,” trying to get all fans to wear maize to the game. Tim Brando and Mike Giminski will be calling the game on CBS. Beilein said the dream scenario for this rivalry is to play Michigan State for the national title. ... Beilein said he'll spend Friday night recruiting.